Sunday, August 30, 2015

black, purple and red rice varieties of India | recipe of black sticky rice and coconut cream pudding with mango

We have such a tremendous variety of produce in India thanks to the geographical an climatic diversity through the length and breadth of the country. And I am one of those mad people who collect such produce from wherever we travel.

I often bring even fresh produce in my hand baggage but the suitcases are stuffed with varieties of rice, lentils and millets many a times. A few millet grains tumble out of one of my suitcases whenever I open it for the next travel, thanks to a torn packet once.

But I am also lucky to get many of these produce at the India International Trade fair stalls here in Delhi. I make it a point to go to the state stalls and buy as much as I can carry. And I can carry a lot trust me. In the trade fair grounds you have to carry whatever you buy, a classic shop till you drop situation. The black and purple rice from North East I always get from there.

black, purple and red rice varieties of India

I got many queries about rice varieties and their availability when I posted this picture last week on Facebook. Thankfully we have started getting these varieties in organic shops almost all around the country, sourcing them locally is the best bet though.

The white rice in the picture is a short grain aromatic variety called Kala namak in eastern UP, the same rice is called Gobindbhog in Bengal and probably Ambe Mohar in Maharashtra. The top right is black rice, bottom right is purple rice and bottom left is red rice from Tamilnadu. The kerala red rice looks a bit different.

Here I am sharing about the black and purple rice varieties from north east India. Both varieties are mostly available hand pounded as these are not industrially produced. The black variety is so rich in pigments that the taste is quite complex due to that. The concentration of anthocyanins in black rice is the highest found in food (higher than blueberries) and it is rich in essential amino acids too.

This is how one of my pigment rich meals looks like. Here I have served the purple sticky rice with beetroot tzatziki, boiled eggs and sauteed spinach with garlic and chillies. Both beets and spinach were homegrown in this meal that I shot 2 years ago.

pigment rich meal

Apart from such meals my favourite way of using these black and purple rice varieties is to make desserts with them. The rice gets nice and creamy when overcooked and combined really well with both milk (dairy) and coconut milk or cream. The black rice pudding made with coconut cream is the one I love the most. The rice lends a nutty and creamy flavour to the pudding that combines really well with mangoes.

Sometimes I add just enough coconut cream to make a thick setting pudding and sometimes I add more coconut cream to make it creamier to coat the fruit cubes.

Here is how the well set black rice pudding looks like, over a bed of cubed mangoes and some toasted coconut chips.

black sticky rice with mangoes

The creamier version looks like this. Moreish and indulgent, very delicious pudding that you can't resist. I make it without any added sugar and it has never disappointed me. The natural sweetness of the rice and coconut cream combines to make a heavenly dessert.

black sticky rice with mangoes

I even make this pudding with the white short grain rice pictured above, the inspiration of this dessert comes from Thai Mango sticky rice and I have been making several versions of it for so many years.

black sticky rice with mangoes

Black or purple sticky rice just makes it so much more value for each calorie consumed. I wouldn't tell you how many times I made this dessert this season. I tried it with all the mango varieties we could lay our hands on and it tasted great with each one of them.

black sticky rice with mangoes

This creamier version I served to my extended family when we all met this weekend and everyone loved it. I had made two more desserts and only one of them (rice kheer) had little sugar in it and my dad who is a diabetic lapped up the 'no added sugar desserts' happily.

The basic recipe remains like this Thai sticky rice with mangoes, the black or purple rice need about 3 times water to raw rice and I prefer it overcooked. If you keep the rice grains just cooked you might feel a slightly bitter aftertaste which disappears once you overcook them.

Once cooked, just stir in coconut cream (25%fat) and adjust thickness as you wish. For 1 cup cooked rice I usually add 200 ml coconut cream to get a set consistency (after refrigeration). For the creamier pudding I add 500 ml coconut cream to 1 cup cooked sticky rice and whisk well till uniformly mixed.

black sticky rice with mangoes

No sugar is required to sweeten it but you can add if you wish, just take care to preserve the natural sweetness of the rice and coconut cream in this dessert, you wont like sugar to hit your palate first in this case.

Try it without any sugar for the first time and see if you want it sweeter. Trust me you wont feel like having any added sugar in this dessert. May be the mango to sticky rice proportion can change if you want it to be more fruity and that is quite good too.

Thai sticky rice and mangoes gets a new lease with black sticky rice trust me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

101 gluten free breakfasts : scrambled raw plantains south Indian style | plantain podimas recipe

plantain podimas recipe

Raw plantain or kachha kela is one of my favourite ingredients and I always have a couple of them in my fridge. In fact I buy a big bunch if I see nice fresh raw plantain with unblemished skin in the market. I never discard the skin so always make it a point to get fresh skinned plantains.

Kela meti ki subzi, kele aur sem ki subzi are  favourite in winters and I make a chutney with raw banana peels sometimes. Kachhe kele ke kofte is made less frequently though. I make the kababs with them too but haven't managed to post the as yet.

There are two types of raw plantains and no these are not the same variety that we eat as ripe bananas. Plantains taste very different even when they are ripe and I quite like the fritters made with them. In the picture below I have shared the two types we get. The rounded variety with a fat middle part and darker skin is the one that gets a little dry after cooking. The other slim plantains with lighter skin colour and slender tapering ends are tastier and stay soft even after cooking. There is a slight difference in taste too.

green plantain

The stout plantains are suited more for kababs and koftas and the slender ones for stir fries. But if you get tender plantains then even the stout ones are good to make stir fried dishes. And that is what I did in this recipe.

It so happened one day that I was alone at home and was thinking what to cook for my brunch. I saw Nandita had posted her plantain podimas recipe and I wanted to eat that. Podimas is normally cooked with boiled, peeled and grated plantains but since I wanted to retain the skin and wanted the stir fry to be quick too. After searching and reading a few recipes I came up with an altered recipe that suited me just fine. I actually loved the taste.

(one serving, a 10 minute recipe)

one medium sized raw plantain (3/4 cup when chopped like the picture)
3-4 springs of fresh curry patta
2 broken dry red chillies
1/4 tsp black mustard seeds
pinch of hing (asafoetida)
1/2 tsp urad daal (black lentils skinned)
1/2 tsp chana daal (black chickpeas skinned)
2 tbsp fresh grated coconut ( I used dehydrated grated coconut and re-hydrated it before use)
salt to taste
1 tsp ghee
lime juice to taste

chopped plantain


The first thing you have to do is lightly peel the plantain skin with a potato peeler so only a very thin layer is removed. If using a farm fresh plantain I would skip this step.

See how I cut the plantain in half lengthwise and then sliced thinly, before chopping small bits of it that resembles grated vegetable. You may want to grate using a box grater.

plantain podimas recipe

Then heat the ghee, add hing, mustard seeds, lentils and red chili in that order and let them all become aromatic.

Add chopped curry patta and fry for a second or two. Now add the chopped or grated plantain along with salt and stir fry for about 3-5 minutes or till it cooks.

Add the grated coconut, lime juice to taste and mix well, cook for a minute and serve immediately.

plantain podimas recipe

This plantain or raw banana podimas is a great substitute of poha or upma kind of breakfast. I had a glass of buttermilk with it and it was a very satisfying meal that kept me full for many hours.

Did you know raw plantains have resistant starch that makes this vegetable a very low glycemic index and that it is prebiotic too?

This breakfast is supplemented with good fats, great variety of fiber, complex carbs and yes even some protein. Add some sesame seeds if you want a little more protein in this meal.

I must tell you raw banana podimas is served like a subzi or side dish with Indian meals of rice and sambar etc. Converting it to a breakfast dish may work for you too. And mind it, this is a 10 minute breakfast recipe.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Mishti Doi recipe from scratch | a sweetened yogurt with caramelised milk flavour | Calcutta style Mishti Doi

Calcutta style Mishti Doi

I am so glad I started making yogurt once again. Dahi as we call yogurt, is an everyday thing and we were generating a lot of plastic cups apart from relying on a dahi that was not real.

Making dahi at home gave way to collecting the clotted cream from milk and processing it to make ghee too sometimes. But we consume full fat milk and yogurt everyday, the clotted cream (malai) is collected rarely so ghee making is not too frequent, I would like it more often as it gives fresh real buttermilk as a side product that I love.

I will share the ghee making process soon, because home made ghee is the best. Not that I don't buy any from the market.

When I posted the home made yogurt procedure some time ago many of you asked for a Mishti Doi recipe too. Mishti Doi is a popular sweetened (caramelised) yogurt from Bengal that has become popular all over the country.

Calcutta style Mishti Doi

To say the truth, I used to make Mishti Doi very frequently till my yogurt making habit suffered and I resorted to Mother Dairy. I had even posted a Mishto Doi recipe on Banaras ka Khana blog. I must tell you we both love the Mishti Doi from Mother Dairy and that was one reason I stopped making it.

But when many of you wanted a Mishti Doi recipe and  Prasad Np and Sushmita reminded me a few times to share it I had to make it again and click pictures, reason enough to share again. The older Mishti Doi recipe uses condensed milk and is way too sweet for me.

I made it twice with 2 slightly different methods and sharing both of them with my notes on taste and texture.

recipe of Mishti Doi with palm sugar 


1 liter milk (full fat 6-7%)
3 sachets of palm sugar (18 gm)
2 tbsp fresh yogurt for culture, preferably hanged


Reduce milk over medium flame till it becomes 500 ml. Cool down till it becomes lukewarm to touch. About 45 C.

Add the palm sugar and the yogurt and whisk well till the milk gets frothy. Use a wire whisk to do this and whisk vigorously. This helps emulsify any fats that may clot at the surface when the yogurt is set.

Now strain and pour in the earthen pot or a ceramic or glass jar. Keep in a warm place for 4-5 hours or till set and smells like yogurt.

Mishti doi recipe

Slow reduction of milk naturally caramelizes the sugars in milk (lactose) making the colour brownish, in this recipe a little color is enhanced by the palm sugar too. I used very little palm sugar as we eat mild sweet desserts so the flavours of the palm sugar are not too prominent. This mishti doi is quite delicately flavoured and mild sweet.

The creaminess is lesser because of less fat content. The sweetness is mild and flavourful due to the palm sugar.

Thanks Sushmita for the Palm sugar you brought from Thailand, we are using it lovingly :-)

recipe of Mishti Doi with caramelized sugar 


1 liter full fat (6-7%) milk
3 tbsp sugar (45 gm)
3 tbsp fresh cream (45 ml)
2 tbsp thick yogurt for culture


Reduce the milk by simmering it over medium flame till the volume becomes half. Cool till it becomes lukewarm to touch.

Meanwhile, caramelise the sugar. To do this, add 1 tbsp water to a flat base frying pan, add the sugar and place the pan over high heat. Keep rotating the pan so the sugar dissolves quickly over heat and starts getting brown at the edges. Keep rotating so the sugar doesn't burn at one spot, the sugar melts and gets browned within a minute or so, taking the consistency of honey. Now pour this into the cooling milk. Stir to dissolve.

Once the milk is lukewarm, add the cream and yogurt and whisk well till frothy. Strain and pour into desired pot or individual serving pots. Keep in a warm place till the yogurt is set.

Mishti doi recipe

This one will be more creamy and sweeter. When you use caramelised sugar to get the colour you can't do with light sweetening. This one was not too sweet but just like the Mother Dairy one.

creamy mishti doi

Remember milk has some sugar too, which makes it sweeter when milk is reduced.

Too much sugar would prevent setting of the yogurt and will spoil the taste of yogurt. You wont want sugar to hit your palate first. 

You can add some saffron or cardamom while whisking in the yogurt culture, but I like it plain. We sometimes have it with toppings of nuts or dried fruits or even shredded aam papad.

Srikhand is another yogurt based dessert from Maharashtra which is made by whisking hung yogurt so much that it becomes creamy and smooth. Srikhand can be flavoured with fruits, spices like cardamom and saffron etc too to be served as a dessert, but plain sweetened Srikhand is eaten with poori too I got to know. I have never tried and I don't intent to either.

Mishti Doi always is a proper dessert, sometimes served with a rasgulla dipped into it. The first time I ate a rasgulla dipped in Mithti Doi was at the wedding of Arvind's Bengali friend in Banaras about 2 decades ago. We were not married back then and I remember I was being treated to all sorts of good mithais and mithai combinations because G's father was very fond of Arvind and me.

Making you eat more mithai indicates more love in our country :-) It is well worth gobbling all that mithai if it is good old Rasgulla and Mishti Doi served together. They make a great combination.

Try it sometime and let me know.

buffet lunch at NYC, Radisson blu Plaza after a relaxing spa session at R The Spa

Last couple of years have been so hectic with so much travel and work I started craving to be home with a relaxed mind. The garden has been suffering and the overall management of home and kitchen suffers too when I travel so much. Being at home for more than a month now feels like a luxury sometimes, can't imagine I used to crave for traveling not too many years ago.

So I am enjoying being at home right now, doing things at my pace and taking a walk in the garden more often, even though I rarely actually work in the garden these days. But that will start too as I can feel my hands itching more often. I have been overworked for so long I was neglecting my personal time too.

So 2 weeks ago when I got an invite from Radisson blu Plaza for a weekend spa session I didn't hesitate to go and check how it is. All with a good mind to book myself a good spa session for myself as a birthday treat later this month if I like the experience. The last spa session I took was last year though I treat myself with foot reflexology regularly.

R The Spa is actually a luxury spa with many treatments to suit your requirement, we felt really relaxed after a session that lasted couple of hours. The therapists are perfectly skilled at their work and make you feel completely comfortable and relaxed. I am definitely booking it again as a gift to myself.

We went to the multi cuisine restaurant at the hotel after the spa session for lunch. This restaurant has live kitchens and extensive spread on the counters, a very vibrant restaurant where you are spoilt for choices. This is an all day restaurant with an exhaustive buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The best thing that I liked was the spread of salads. There are larger platters of salads too but the small single serving bowls of salads are very very convenient. You don't have to dig out things from a large platter where other guests have excavated valuables, a mini salad neatly arranged in a small bowl is ready to be devoured in it's totality. This way you feel like trying many salads available on the buffet and I liked quite a few of them.

Pickled onion rings with grilled courgettes, prawns with passion fruit salsa, grilled chicken with tomato salsa and a slice of avocado, prawns with mango salsa and pomegranate were some of my favourite salads in the single serving bowls.

I tried a grilled mushroom salad, bacon wrapped prawns and Amritsari machhli too and everything was perfect. Amritsari machhli is a fish fry with a besan batter infused with ajwain and red chilly etc.

I rarely like besan batter fish fry but this Amritsari fish fry is so good you feel like having second and third helping, of course with loads of green salad on the side.

This thyme infused grilled chicken wings was also good.

NYC at Radisson blu Plaza is the place where you can stick to your diet regime whatever you are following, I ate loads of salads or all types and had some Thai green curry later. Thai green curry is one of the best in town thanks to Chef Yenjai Suthiwaja from Neung Roi. Arvind tried some Meen moilee and Rogan josh and liked each of them.

And yes, don't forget to enjoy the Figs and walnut ice cream there. I rarely eat ice creams but this one is really good, worth each calorie consumed.

On Saturdays The Pastry Shop at the hotel has been conducting baking classes, we got a glimpse of that too. We did not have the time to attend the class but Chef Qureshi was teaching Macaroons and Tiramisu when I peeped in.

You could go and attend one of these classes if you want to learn baking authentic desserts. Chef Qureshi was sharing how all five star hotels use good quality chocolate only and how this category of desserts have become more and more popular in the last decade or so.

The fruit bread from The Pastry Shop is so good it feels like home baked pound cake studded with fruits and nuts.

I haven't been baking breads and cakes for very long but this bread made me feel like baking some really soon. Stay tuned a nice healthy cake is on the way.